The Greatest, Best, Most Important GP car of All Time.

Discussion in 'Motorsport' started by Dotini, May 21, 2019.

  1. Dotini

    Dotini Premium

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    Considering the entire period of GP from1906 to the present, what do you consider the top of the heap, the best all-time car, and why? Would it be useful to divide off the cars before 1950? Either way, my nominations are the McLaren M23 all-time and the Bugatti Type 35 pre-1950. My reasons are the same for both: looks, wins, longevity, cost and availability. In addition, the M23 pushed forward safety with first central fuel cell.

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  2. Liquid

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    There's a difference to be made between greatest and most important.

    The greatest car would almost certainly be a car deemed successful whereas the most important car could be a car which although not successful itself, was innovative and that innovation was adopted by others like the Tyrrell 020.

    You could be here all day listing off the first milestones of whatever to find the most important Grand Prix cars; the Alfa Romeo Monoposto being the first single seater, the Cooper J.A.P. being the first rear-engined Formula One car, the Lotus 25 being the first stressed monocoque and so on.

    That being said, I would suggest the McLaren MP4 as a very strong contender. The introduction of carbon fibre monocoques cannot be overstated as being crucial to both driver safety and car design with then-unprecedented levels of strength, rigidity and lightness which today are not only ubiquitous but also underappreciated to those who may not be aware of past car design and manufacturing.

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    Last edited: May 22, 2019
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  3. Dotini

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    Excellent choice! I've always admired car this ever since I helped the McLaren team roll one off the transporter at Long Beach where I first laid eyes on it. It was a giant step forward in safety and chassis stiffness, so vital to handling qualities. A truly great car and milestone. I could argue that the Auto Union preceded the Cooper as a rear engine GP machine, that Gordon Murray used carbon fiber in chassis stiffness panels earlier than the McLaren, and that the Lotus 25 monocoque was long preceded by the Issigonis hillclimb special, the Miller Indy car, the D Jaguar, and many airplanes. But your point is well taken. As a schoolboy I was ecstatic with the Lotus 25, and it is still my sentimental favorite.

    Please keep the nominations coming!
     
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  4. Liquid

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    I did say the Cooper was the first rear engine in F1 and I believe the Lotus was the first stressed monocoque in GP racing not hillclimbing. ;) This is what I mean about importance when it comes to innovation. The MP4 was the first Formula One car to have its monocoque totally made from carbon fibre rather than individual parts of a car having carbon fibre stiffening panels.

    If the Cosworth DFV is the most successful and most important engine in Formula One, then the Lotus 49 also has to at least be a contender for most important Grand Prix car.
     
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  5. Dotini

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    This about the Cosworth DFV is something we can both agree on 100%. It's one of the reasons I so much like the M23. I agree the Lotus 49 is a strong contender for most important car, very much so. A lot of people obtained them and they raced for many years, including my home town hero Pete Lovely. I drooled over his very closely! One of its most elegant features was the use of the engine as a stressed member. Yet wasn't there another famous F1 car from the 50's that also used the engine as a stressed member?
     
  6. Jimlaad43

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    The problem is, of we're talking about the most influential cars of all time, there is a major case for the 1994 Williams that killed Senna.

    The lessons learned from the crash have only gone on to benefit the sport and bend it to what we see nowadays, where safety is such an important, intrinsic and incredible part. Killing drivers is not something anyone wants to see, and the improvements to cockpit intrusion, crash testing, car aerodynamics and reduction in driver aids have only improved the sport without having much negative effect on the racing (really the only bad thing is that the safety improvements have increased the weight of the cars and that the Halo doesn't look great).
     
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  7. Dotini

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    Several excellent points here which could well be elaborated upon: safety, improving the sport, the quality of the racing, and the weight of the cars. Speaking of the quality of racing, I can't think of an F1 car which which was easier to race and drive in close proximity to on both corners and straights than those preceding the ground effects era and complicated aero regimes that succeeded it. Look at Monza, 1971; packs of cars running tightly together, even side by side around corners and 2, 3 or 4 abreast on the straights. Speaking of the weight, I think it is true that the current cars are the heaviest for at least since the very early fifties, and maybe even heavier. Some of the big 4.5 liter cars like the Talbot-Lago must have been pretty heavy, but exact figures seem hard to come by. Although it is not really relevant to this thread, I must ask if the prevalence of chicanes is as necessary as it seemed at one time?
     
  8. Liquid

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    Formula One cars now are about as heavy as a minimum than the maximum permitted weight of the dieselpunk 1930s.

    During the peak years of the European Championship, 1934-38, the maximum weight allowed for a car was 750kg. Contrast that to today where the cars must weight 733kg as a minimum and that's without any fuel and without the driver. Given that fuel is ~100kg and let's say a driver is 75kg a modern F1 car must weight something around 900kg all in, again as a minimum, which is greater than the absolute maximum of the 30s cars which rose to a permitted 850kg in 1939.

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    As I've mentioned, to me a contender for "most important" is going to be a milestone in design someway. That's just how I see it. I'd like to suggest another contender:

    Williams FW15C

    A very modern suggestion in the grand scheme of things, yes, but I submit it for one very good reason; it has a claim to being the most sophisticated Formula One car of all time. Here's a list of the devices it had:

    Active suspension
    Anti-lock brakes
    Traction control
    Launch control
    Onboard telemetry
    Fly-by-wire throttle, brakes and clutch
    Pneumatic valve springs
    Power steering
    Drag reduction system
    An automatic transmission with manual resetting
    A CVT that was used in testing

    The automatic transmission worked where the transmission would work automatically but if a button on the steering wheel was selected, the driver would reset it to semi-automatic the next time he calls for a gear change and the automatic transmission would disengage. Another push of the button would set it again to automatic.

    As is well known, the active suspension was so great that it offered unparalleled levels of grip and cornering by the onboard telemetry and sensors by monitoring the road clearance between the car's floor and the track and adjusting the suspension geometry to continuously maintain a desired clearance to enable maximum downforce.

    And yes, it really did have a drag reduction system. Another button on the steering wheel would order the active suspension to raise the rear of the car. This reduced drag at the rear and allowed for easier overtaking on straights. It was such a well-designed system that it was pathologically linked to the ECU to raise the rev limiter by 300 rpm to compensate for the reduction in drag and increase in speed when using the system.

    The car was so advanced but it wasn't without its flaws. Sometimes the computers would mishandle the data it was getting from the sensors and not react in the correct or appropriate way. The weight distribution and DRS made for a car that was twitchy under high-speed braking such as that at Hockenheim. For those reasons it was considered a dangerous car not for what it was, but for what it could do if something onboard went wrong. Because of this, most of what it had was banned immediately for the 1994 season.

    Whether the cars of the 2010s are more sophisticated or not is open to debate but with that in mind, the FW15C easily has had a long-time claim to the crown of most sophisticated car because nothing that followed it came close to matching its systems, performance and technology.

    It is, or was, the halo and apex of what a Grand Prix car can be.

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    Not the FW15C itself but this gives an idea as to how the active suspension and DRS worked.
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  9. Dotini

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    Without doubt the FW15 was the most sophisticated F1 car ever. You could even argue it was the most influential because so many of its features were banned and showed the way NOT to go in terms of safety, quality of racing, longevity, cost and availability. So sadly, I will have to shade this entry as anything but what I had in mind in the OP. But I'm still thinking about the wisdom of your earlier remarks about the most successful and important engine of all time. Accordingly, humbly I submit the 1912 Peugeot, which introduced the basic upper-end architecture we still use today, DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder. This architecture has been used by all successful GP and F1 cars except in periods of great penury in which constructers were forced to use 2 valve engines such as the Coventry Climax fire pump unit.

    The great Peugeot has the distinction of winning the Indy 500 in addition to the French GP, a feat accomplished by no other cars - or has it? Perhaps there was an Indy winner that won the French GP?


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    The 1912 Peugeot L3 ‘Lion 3Liter’ racer with Essai driving and Thomas as mechanic
    What the Charlatans proposed was revolutionary; the first automobile engine with double overhead camshafts, and four valves per cylinder. The result of Henry’s design work was the legendary Peugeot Grand Prix EX1 or L76 (‘L’ for ‘Lion’, Peugeot’s symbol, and 7.6-liter) and L3 (3-liter) four-cylinder racing engines. The overhead camshafts were driven by a shaft-and-bevel arrangement at the front of the engine block, and the engine was water-cooled of course. They were raced from 1912 onwards, and literally won everything they entered, including the Indianapolis 500!


     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
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  10. Greycap

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    If the Lotus 49 was the one that gave the world the definitive way of mounting a racing car engine (and actually the 43 before that but the 49 still takes the cake), it's still not the most important one even in the Lotus family tree. That honour in my opinion goes to the 72, the car that spelled the end of the front mounted radiators and moved F1 to the modern era of sidepods that has continued ever since. It also evolved perhaps more than any other car in F1 history through the years, filling the gap between the late '60s cigar-shaped machines with treaded tyres and the already distinctively "F1 looking" cars of the '70s.

    Lotus 72, Jochen Rindt, 1970.

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    Lotus 72E, Ronnie Peterson, 1973.

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  11. Dotini

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    Awesome entry.

    Yes, the Lotus 72 scores very, very high on the list of looks, wins, longevity, cost and availability, criteria which this thread is predicated upon. It ranks super close to the M23. I shaded it only because of the quirky inboard brakes, the lack of a unitized central fuel cell and a marred safety record. I wonder which yielded higher production numbers, the Lotus 72 or the McLaren M23?